Five Ways to Find a Trustworthy Estate Agent in Hertford

In this three-minute read, we list five things Hertford sellers should look for in an estate agent.

It pains us to say this, but a recent survey found people were more likely to trust a traffic warden or a lawyer than an estate agent.

When it comes to telling the truth, it seems that only politicians have a worse reputation than estate agents (source: YesHomebuyers.com).

As you can imagine, this frustrates us. Firstly, we’re a hardworking Hertford business with a strong track record – just ask our happy customers. We know there are some cowboys out there – and thankfully, the industry is working to weed them out – but we hate being lumped in the same category as them.

Secondly, selling a home is one of the most significant transactions a person makes in their lifetime. We hate to think that people are being led through that process by someone they think is a consummate liar. It must make the whole experience more stressful.

So, we’ve put together a five-point list of things to look out for when you’re hunting for an estate agent you can trust.

  1. Word of mouth 

Speak to friends and family about their experiences of selling in Hertford. Don’t just ask them to name a good agent but dig deeper to find out: how long it took them to sell their property, if the agent’s valuation was realistic, who conducted the viewings, and if the customer service was up to scratch.

  • Marketing research

Identify popular agents in Hertford and scrutinise how they market their properties. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions as these are vital ingredients for achieving top price. Dodgy snaps of cluttered rooms, and minimal information, should set off alarm bells.

  • Are they registered?

All UK estate agents who deal with residential properties must register with either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. These organisations deal with customer complaints (hopefully, you won’t have any, but it’s good to have peace of mind). If they’re not registered, steer clear.

  • Are they a member of a professional body?

Many good agents will be part of a professional body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Membership shows they take their professional responsibilities seriously.

  • Realistic valuation

If an agent vows to sell your home for a price that far exceeds market trends or your expectations, be suspicious. They’re either over-promising to win your custom or clueless (or both!). Either way, buyers won’t buy it (literally), and you’ll wind up dropping the asking price later. Don’t fall for this time-wasting exercise.

To find out more about why people in Hertford have been trusting us with their home sales for years, give us a call. COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Why short-term gain often leads to long term pain for Hertford landlords

A two-minute read. A landlords’ advice article published recently said property investors need to think more like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire businessman is renowned for his long-term thinking. He thinks decades ahead, and let’s face it, he’s not doing too bad, is he?

The article said landlords should retain good tenants at a reasonable rate rather than aim to get the highest rents in the short term.

It’s wise advice and something we believe in.

When a landlord adopts a short-term view of their property investment, it can often lead to lasting headaches.

The advice you are given can often depend on your letting agent’s philosophy.

Some agents will say things like: ‘The rental market in Hertford is on fire now. We can get you even higher rents and squeeze out every penny from tenants.’

That’s not the way we approach things. Why? Because if you hike up a person’s rent whenever possible, it may mean more money in the short run but can be more costly in the long run.

Our advice to clients and indeed anyone thinking of investing in rental property is this:

Getting higher monthly rents isn’t as crucial in the mid to long term as finding and looking after good quality tenants paying a fair rate.

Here are some of the plus points a good longer term tenant brings:

Fewer void periods.

Fewer unnecessary repair or maintenance call outs mean a reduction in the property’s running expenses.

Good tenants appreciate they are being treated fairly and respectfully, and they look after their home.

Never to be underestimated is that having a good tenant in your property reduces your stress levels.

Going for the highest monthly rent charge as a property rental strategy can often be a mistake.

At Abel, we take the time to find, vet and keep good quality tenants for our landlords. This is the best way forward in the long term.

So, take a leaf out of the wealthiest person in the World’s book (Bezos was ranked #1 by Forbes magazine last month) and think further ahead when it comes to achieving rental property success.

Copyright 2021 Abel

Stress-Busting Tips for Property Management in Hertford

In this two-minute read, we show you how to keep calm and in control when letting your Hertford property.

The idea that investing in rental property is easy passive income is a myth. Letting and managing rental property can be stressful, especially for inexperienced or accidental landlords.

This month sees the championing of Stress Awareness Month; an annual event which recognises the dangers of modern-day stress and provides valuable coping strategies. If you are wading through tenancy treacle, read our top tips to temper your tension.

Do your homework

Whether it’s a simple credit check or a comprehensive background check, referencing your tenant is ESSENTIAL. If you have concerns, you could arrange to meet your prospective tenant in their current property to see how it’s been looked after or even go a step further and ask for a rental guarantor. If you have rental income insurance, check whether the terms of your policy stipulate the level of referencing required.

Build a circle of trust

People buy people. And much like you want the right tenant in your property, you want the right tradespeople working in it. We guarantee that you will, at some point, have some repairs that need attention – whether from an accident or general wear and tear. Building a trusted network of tradespeople that provide value for money will stand you in good stead.

Don’t leave yourself short

Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of an emergency fund. In tough financial climates, rent arrears can be more of a reality than a risk. In situations like this, contact your tenant – there may be a simple explanation which is easily remedied. If not, don’t delay in taking advice. If you rely on your rental investment for income, consider whether rental insurance is a sensible option.

Know when you need help

If it all gets too much, ask for help. A good letting agent can manage the entire tenant journey for you: from tenant sourcing right through to the end of tenancy clean. Inventories, referencing, deposits, rent collection, repairs, and legal and regulatory compliance; you name it, it’s covered.

We understand the pressures involved in letting your property and are here to alleviate your anxieties. If you’d like to hear how we can make your property let a stress-free experience, give us a call on 01992 532 222.

Copyright Abel 2021

Introducing a World First for the Estate Agency Industry

A leading international inventor has chosen Abel to be one of only ten estate agencies in the world to trial his Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.

The reclusive billionaire and his team of experts have created a ground-breaking app that translates a person’s thoughts into a text message by analysing their brainwaves.

It involves the wearing of a baseball-style cap that has sensors in it.

Dubbed the AI Honest Agent Hat the sensors transmit the wearer’s brain activity as a message onto any mobile phone that has been given a password and has downloaded the app.

We are among only nine other agents from across the planet who have been chosen to trial this software over six months.

It will mean our clients will be able to literally read our thoughts on their phones when it comes to selling or renting their homes in Hertford.

The idea is the brainchild of a billionaire French internet genius and leading social scientist, Esh Kalting-Parc.

Speaking from his chateau in Paradise Falls, Monsieur Kalting-Parc said: “I always look to solve problems. And a big problem for estate and letting agents is that people often view them with mistrust.

“Now, with the invention of my AI Honest Agent Hat, that will be a thing of the past. I wanted politicians to take part in this initial experiment, but they universally refused.”

The introduction of our caps will be headed up by our new manager Noel Kusm who will run our AI Honest Agent department.

Noel said: “We’re an open and honest agency, we always share what’s on our minds and now you can literally know what we’re thinking. We’ve been selected because of our honest approach to business, so seeing as the cap fits, we’ll wear it.

“We’d be fools not to go for it, and that’s why we have signed up to be part of this exciting programme.”

Copyright 2021 Abel

Easy DIY Projects to Help Sell Your Home Faster

In this three-minute read, we look at some simple and affordable projects to help sell your home faster and probably for a higher price, too.

It’s DIY Day on 3 April and if you’re planning to sell your home, here are six easy things you can do yourself to help sell it quickly. They are simple, straightforward, and inexpensive ways to improve your home’s look and value. Happy DIY Day!

  1. Make sure your exterior looks excellent

Prospective buyers make up their minds within a few minutes of arriving, so kerb appeal is vital in creating a good first impression. Think about repainting your front door or fences, check your front garden is well-maintained and check your windows have been well looked after. Tidy up your back garden too if it needs it – people often visualise themselves using it.

  • Paint

If your walls have been crying out for a lick of paint and you’re planning to put your home on the market, now is the time to get busy with a brush. Remember, you’re trying to appeal to buyers so go for neutral colours. You could even read up on current trends to appeal to design-minded house hunters.

  • Give your kitchen some TLC

Kitchens are the focal point of many homes, so a revamp is one of the best ways to add value to yours. Don’t worry, you don’t need to fit a completely new kitchen! Think about freshening up kitchen cupboards with a new paint job, making handles and taps a feature with modern replacements, or rejuvenating seat cushions with pretty fabrics. Even smart new tea towels will make a difference.

  • Boost the bathroom

The bathroom can also be a big selling point, so make sure yours is looking its best. Bathrooms often lack storage so you could install some shelves if you’re feeling confident. Think about other simple jobs like replacing the toilet seat or installing a new shower head. Both of these are easy jobs – even for beginners – and will improve your bathroom’s appearance.

  • Look at your lighting

Clever lighting can make your home look warm and bright, and therefore more inviting. Think about modernising the light fixtures, using energy efficient bulbs or adding lamps to rooms where there isn’t much natural light.

  • Little jobs mean a lot

Small problems and defects could create the impression your home is not well cared for. Look out for things like cracked tiles, dripping taps or even holes in walls and make sure they are dealt with before your home goes on the market. Buyers do not want to be hit with a list of jobs just after they move in.

For more advice about selling your Hertford home or to share DIY tips, get in touch with the team at Abel.

Copyright Abel 2021

Seven Ways People Pulled Together During the Pandemic

In this two-minute read, we look at the ingenious ways communities pulled together during the pandemic to spread joy and raise spirits.

In years to come, when we talk about living through the pandemic, we’ll no doubt mention face masks, home-schooling, and Zoom meetings.

But let’s not forget the countless examples of kindness and resourcefulness that we’ve witnessed in the community over the past 12 months.

Here are seven examples of can-do spirit in action.

Mutual aid groups

Since last March, 4,000 mutual aid groups have formed in the UK, providing an army of local volunteers who have delivered hundreds of thousands of food parcels, meals, and medicines to people in need.

Team spirit

A social club in Pontypool, Wales, transformed into a foodbank and supplied hundreds of families with food, baby clothes, and school uniforms. Allan Peploe, a driving force behind the Panteg House Foodbank, said he often went hungry as a child – and didn’t want anyone else to go without food.

Major effort

Army major turned care home manager Jonathan Cunningham had an electric rickshaw fitted with a Perspex screen. He then took residents of Birkdale Park Care Home for spins around their hometown of Southport. The fresh air and a change of scene worked wonders.

Hats off 

When the going got tough in Milton Keynes, the tough got knitting. In December, the local hospital appealed for hats to help keep premature babies warm and local knitters responded by producing more than 3,000 dinky red beanies in a few weeks. 

The power of song

In Warwickshire, an online choir helped people with long-term lung problems improve their breath management and ward off depression. Singer Keith, who took part in the My Voice Lifts My Soul project, said: “The choir gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

Gin-o-clock

During lockdown, residents in over-70s independent living facility Williamson Court, Lancaster, started their own in-house delivery service. On Thursday mornings, volunteers delivered cakes to residents’ doors, and on Friday nights, a gin trolley rolled around. 

Musical fundraiser

When Rebecca Parker, 98, vowed to play the piano for 100 days in a row, the local community responded generously. Rebecca played Scottish tunes to her fellow residents of McClymont House, Lanark, for three months and raised £17,500 for Lanarkshire Health Board Endowment Funds.

From the team at Abel, keep smiling and take care.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

How to Get the Most out of Your Stay-at-Home Holiday in Hertford

In this three-minute read, we look at how you can use your garden to make a staycation feel like you really are getting away from it all.

The last year has left many of us more in need of a holiday than ever. While things will slowly start getting back to normal, there remain plenty of valid reasons that may make you reluctant to travel anytime soon.

The good news is you don’t need to go far. Here are our top tips to make the back garden your next dream destination.

Prepare your staycation area

Think about the type of holiday you are trying to create when considering garden furniture and accessories. If you normally holiday by the sea, buy some deckchairs, or if you are used to a desert island, put up a hammock. Failing that, spread out a picnic blanket.

Recreate a serene spa break

What better way to look after mind, body, and soul? Create a relaxing zone in your garden and indulge in some luxury with a hot tub. There are options on the market to suit every budget, ranging from luxury options (and prices) to inflatable spa pools which you can pack up and put away after your staycation ends. The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association can help you get started.

Put in an outdoor kitchen

An important part of any holiday is eating. More and more people are asking for kitchens to be incorporated into their garden design and they can include a fridge for drinks, work surfaces, and ovens. You can choose from a freestanding outdoor kitchen for over £10,000 right down to a much more affordable pizza oven.

Fire pit

Fire has brought people together for centuries and this will ensure you can enjoy your garden for longer when the sun goes down, keeping you warm and toasty for hours. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at a real fire? There are plenty of purpose-built options available online.

Don’t forget the kids

Any parent will tell you just how difficult it has been to keep their children occupied over the last 12 months, as well as keeping themselves sane. So why not turn the garden into a fun little getaway for them? No family holiday is complete without a few games and a hosepipe and water balloons can provide hours of fun on a hot day.

Create an open-air cinema

Instead of crowding round the telly, buy a projector – they’re easy to use outside. Connect it to your media source or speaker. For the screen, you can pin a white bed sheet to a wall or fence. Lights, camera, action!

With so much uncertainty around travel abroad and social distancing in the coming months, make the most of summer 2021 by holidaying safely at home.

From us all at Abel, happy holidays and don’t forget to send us a postcard.

Copyright Abel 2021

Sell Your Home This Spring by Following These Top Tips

In this two-minute read, we reveal five steps to prepare your home for sale in spring (part two of a two-part article).

If you’re planning a spring move, get ahead of the competition by preparing your property for sale now.

You’d be amazed how a little bit of planning and elbow grease can influence the sale process.

Paying attention to detail can mean the difference between achieving a good price and top price. It can also play a part in the speed of a transaction.

Homes that “stick” – stay on the market for a long time – tend to be in a bad state of repair and poorly presented. (Yes, some buyers are interested in purchasing a doer-upper, but only if they can knock the price right down.)

Buyers like to know what they’re getting. They want to walk into a clean, light, and airy property and visualise themselves living there.

Here are five ways to prepare your home for sale (for more tips, check out part one of this series, published here last week. https://abelestateagents.co.uk/blogs/

  1. Get the floors cleaned. It’s tempting to hide those red wine stains under a rug, but eagle-eyed buyers will move furniture and floor coverings to find out what’s underneath. Get your carpets cleaned and if you have floorboards, polish them so that they’re gleaming.
  • Let the light in. A key reason to sell in spring is to take advantage of the natural light. Clean the curtains and make sure you open them before a viewing to show your home at its best.
  • Clean the windows. Grimy, streaky windows are a turn-off and don’t show your house in the best light.
  • Get rid of animal odours. If you were one of the many to get a pandemic puppy, congratulations! We’re sure your furry friend is gorgeous, but it’s inevitable that your home now has a particular doggy smell. Wash the dog’s bedding and pack away all the chew-toys and squeaky toys. Also, invest in some scented candles.
  • Create a grand entrance. Pay careful attention to your front door (does it need a lick of paint?) and hallway as buyers will form an opinion the moment they step over the threshold. Make sure all remnants of winter – muddy boots and heavy coats – are out of sight.

For more advice about selling your Hertford home, get in touch with us here at Abel.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

Six Ways Letting Agents Save Landlords Time

In this two-minute read, we look at how letting agents handle the fiddly, time-consuming elements of renting out a property (part two of a two-part series).

In part two of our series on property management, we look at how letting agents save landlords time – that precious commodity that is always in short supply.

A survey of 500 landlords found that using a letting agent saves a landlord on average six hours a month (source: Endsleigh Insurance).

We would go further and argue that letting agents don’t just save landlords time, but the right sort of time.

It’s one thing to get a call from your tenant saying a pipe has burst; it’s another if the call comes through while you’re sipping a cocktail on your long-awaited holiday.

Landlords must be on call 24/7 as property management is unpredictable. It doesn’t matter if you’re abroad, or under the cosh at work, if something goes wrong, you need to drop everything and act. Unless you have a letting agent, in which case they’ll handle it for you – while you keep sipping that cocktail.

Here’s a list of six ways letting agents save Hertford landlords time.

  • The key ingredient to a successful let is a reliable tenant. Letting agents are experts at tenant sourcing and reference checks.
  • There are more than 175 plus laws that apply to landlords in the UK. A letting agent will make sure you follow them all – and hence avoid a hefty fine or a criminal charge.
  • A letting agent will conduct regular inspections to check that there are no safety or maintenance issues and that the tenant is meeting their obligations.
  • A letting agent will navigate this complex and stressful process for you.
  • A letting agent provides a buffer between the landlord and the tenant. It’s the agent’s job to check in with tenants and maintain good lines of communication.
  •  A letting agent will deal with the admin and keep a clear paper trail.

To learn more about our tenant finder and property management services, contact us here at Abel.

COPYRIGHT Abel 2021

How to Secure the Snappy Sale of Your Home This Spring

In this two-minute read, we look at ways to prepare your home for a successful spring sale (part one of a two-part article).

If you’re planning to put your home on the market in the next few months, now is the time to spring into action (see what we did there?).

Traditionally, the property market booms in springtime, with many buyers and sellers opting to wait out the winter and make their move when the days start to get longer and warmer. 

With spring just a few weeks away, we’ve compiled a list so you can prepare your property for sale.

This article covers the first five points (and stay tuned for part two next week).

Have a spring clean

Now is the time to have a good clear out. Prospective buyers are looking for a home that they can make their own and will find piles of bric-a-brac a turn-off. And don’t just focus on the living areas and bedrooms. Declutter the bathroom and remove cleaning and beauty products from view.

General maintenance

Is your home looking a little tired after a year of pandemic living? Freshen up the walls with a lick of paint and do all the odd jobs – like clearing the gutters – that you’ve been putting off.

Get an expert valuation

The property market has been the subject of all sorts of headlines during the past year. Until you speak to an expert, you won’t have a realistic picture of the AREA housing market and what you can expect to get for your property.

Think about presentation

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer and imagine how they might make use of your property. Perhaps the spare room you use for a home gym would be more appealing if presented as a home office? Speak to an estate agent for advice about how to present your home so you can maximise your asking price.

Get planting

More than ever, people are craving outdoor space and access to nature – so give them what they want! Plant colourful flowers at the front and back of your property for immediate impact. If you don’t have a garden, use plant pots to create interest.

If you’d like an update on the state of the Hertford housing market, or advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at Abel.